Let's break these down a team-at-a-time:
- Arizona -- Most of these teams will suffer from "MSU losses are better than your losses" argument. (All of Michigan State's 7 losses come from teams in the RPI top-100.) But the only worse-than-MSU loss that Arizona possesses is a 1-point defeat at woeful Oregon State (Current StatSheet.com RPI: 230). Arizona's road victory at Washington State is overlooked since the Wildcats lost so badly at the University of Washington.
I think it's fair to say that 4 losses with the 47th-strongest schedule is better than 7 losses on the 3rd-strongest schedule (so far). KenPom has 'zona rated higher than MSU; Jeff Goodman put Arizona on his AP ballot at #25. Since the Wildcats are already on Jeff's ballot, they can't be used to knock off Sparty, though clearly they should be ranked higher.
- Boston College -- Worse of 6 losses is to Yale (Current StatSheet.com RPI: 136). Has more wins (6) over RPI top-100 teams than Sparty (5) but no wins against top-25 teams. Strength of Schedule is probably unfairly boosted by Duke; will probably lose badly to Duke; will probably get slaughtered by Duke. A Duke win would propel BC over Michigan State, but we all know that's not gonna happen.
- Butler -- No. That will be all, Alfred.
- George Mason -- Not better than the Spartans. A 4-loss Patriot team (by earning a win against Dayton or Hofstra) would be a better argument.
- Kansas State -- Like George Mason, K-State has one-too-many losses. PLEASE DON'T HIT ME COACH FRANK MARTIN!
- North Carolina -- The Tarheels are buoyed on the strength of the win in the Dean Dome vs. Kentucky. William & Mary and St. Francis are the kind of cupcakes that Rick Pitino covets. UNC's strength of schedule will go up once they lose to Duke twice. Ol' Roy's team is very susceptible to the "MSU losses are better than your losses" argument unfortunately.
- Old Dominon -- Slightly worse than George Mason means ODU is not right for COMPARISYAAAAWWNNN!
- St. John's -- The Michigan State of the Big East: A Coach that everybody loves playing against mighty competition. Sorry, Coach Steve Lavin, I'm not going to bat for you and your "St. John's being successful is good for the NCAA because St. John's will make New York City care about college basketball!" hoop dreams.
- Tennessee -- I could tell you that a 7-loss Tennessee team is better than Michigan State but that would be lying. Instead, I'm just not going to tell you anything about what I think about Tennessee. That's not against the rules, is it?
- UCLA -- A very favorable comparison to the Spartans. Gets a strength-of-schedule bump from Villanova and Kansas and is on a 4-game win streak. Sadly, those 4 games are all semi-shitty Pac-10 teams. Sigh.
- UNLV -- They have two less high-profile wins than Sparty, but also two less losses with a comparable strength-of-schedule (StatSheet.com SOS: 31). The Runnin' Rebs still have good wins over Wisconsin and Kansas State and one loss outside the RPI top-100 (USCB). UNLV is 3-3 in their last 6 games, just like MSU. UNLV is 3-3 in a very nationally-competitive Mountain West; Sparty is 4-3 in the 2nd best conference.
I don't think MSU's 7 losses are better than UNLV's 5 losses, but they sure are close to being equal. KenPom agrees, ranking UNLV #25 and MSU #26. UNLV is suffering from not being ranked high enough in the pre-season poll. (A pre-season poll which smushed San Diego St. and BYU in together at the end.)
But since the pollsters are not too high on UNLV -- only 4 votes in this week's poll -- I suppose UNLV's loss to Colorado State is just too much to warrant votes over MSU. But it's a tight call; a real towel-chewer.
- West Friggin' Virginia -- Only 1 bad loss to Marshall. Two wins over top-25 teams and 6-4 versus RPI top-100 teams. There is no way that Michigan State's 7 losses are superior to West Virginia's 5 losses. KenPom has the Mountaineers at #24, two spots above MSU.
So why did Jeff drop West Virginia out of his Top-25 ballot? Because he didn't have West Virginia in his ballot until the prior week. Apparently most of the AP voters rated the Mountaineers too low from the start of the season.
- Xavier -- The Musketeers are 8-4 versus RPI top-100 teams, but the best RPI win was against Temple. Yes, Temple, who shocked Georgetown, beat Georgia and really didn't do anything else. Getting stomped in the Crosstown Shootout did not help. MSU's 7 losses are definitely better than Xavier's five.
(Note: Cincinatti didn't make my list. Their non-conference schedule is so full of cupcakes, you could call them Andy Samburg.)
So, Jeff, even though you had them ranked below Michigan State in prior polls, West Friggin' Virginia has the resume to replace Michigan State.. That is, if Huggy Bear can keep his players from leaving or being suspended.
You're welcome, Jeff. Do I win a prize?